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Immigrant from Bangkok working hard to succeed
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Amy Conklin is working toward a career in nursing hopefully at Doctors Hospital in Manteca where she just received a $2,500 scholarship from the hospital auxiliary of which she is a member. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Amy Conklin, 36, immigrated to California nine years ago from her native Bangkok, Thailand, determined she would get her education and become a nurse.

She came to Northern California on a visitor’s visa to live temporarily with an aunt who works as an engineer with Bay Area Rapid Transit before deciding she wanted to call the U.S. her home.  Conklin said she quickly realized there were more opportunities in her new country that would help her help herself to succeed.

While she had taken English classes in Thailand, she said she felt unprepared to be living in a country where her education was not to the level of what was available in the United States.

Conklin went to adult school at Lindbergh through English as a Second Language program. She earned a high school diploma preparing herself to be better communicate and to fit into the culture.   She then attended Delta College where she has earned two associate in arts degrees with high honors – one in Natural Science and the other in Teacher Preparation.

At the same time she enrolled in an ESL program at Modesto Junior College to better sharpen her language skills. She said that her 4.65 GPA didn’t count toward the Delta nursing program because it is based on a lottery selection.

She has also applied into the MJC nursing program and expects an answer to her chances in the first week of August.  

Conklin said she is now “thinking outside the box” questioning what other areas are open to her in the medical field.

Conklin said she was ready to take on her RN training at Delta College, but the course is impacted in Stockton with a large number of applicants vying for an opening. She realizes that while nursing is difficult to break into, radiology is not.  She has been observing the operations of the hospital’s radiology department now for nearly 60 hours in the last two weeks hoping it might be a path to becoming a nurse.

“I am going to apply for radiology at Delta.  That is my second plan,” she said.  

Conklin explained that she came from a middle class family in Thailand She had put off her education to take care of her parents.  

She said her mother is 58. Her dad is 10 years older and works as a truck driver in Bangkok.  Conklin welcomed having her story told this week, because her mother would be happy realizing what she is accomplishing in America when she reads it.

When she graduated from Lindbergh Adult School in 2008, she was awarded one scholarship from the Manteca Rotary Club. Just this week she was one of 11 nursing students to receive the Doctors Hospital Auxiliary Scholarships in the amount of $2,500.  That funding came from sales at the hospital gift shop totaling $21,000.

Johnette Ragsdale, president of the auxiliary, complimented Conklin for her resourcefulness in serving the hospital and its patients.  Ragsdale said on holidays Conklin creates small gifts in the theme of the holiday and passes them out to patients at their bedsides.

“She is a compassionate, caring, polite, a wonderful young woman with an outpouring of love for everyone.  She is so thoughtful of everybody she works with.  I just can’t say enough good things about her,” Ragsdale said. “She’s always smiling – never have I seen her without a smile.  At home she takes care of her aged father-in-law.  We should have more people like her in the world.”

Ragsdale added that it’s very evident that she will do everything she can in the medical field until she becomes a registered nurse.

Conklin said her life totally changed when she met her husband, Gary, after moving to California, and it was love at first sight.  When she learned that he was a deeply caring man who had devoted much of his life to his older parents, a marriage decision came within a short two-week time span.  Conklin said it was obvious to her they were meant to be together.  He has supported her desire in every way toward a higher education in her quest to become a nurse, she added.

Conklin’s son Opal is 12 years old and remains in her home country.  She said she hopes through education and becoming a professional in the medical world can result in bringing him to Manteca to live.  She added that in becoming a professional she believes she will have the money to better help care for her family.

“I am so proud to be part of the Manteca community.  I believe in the future.  I am going to become a nurse and I am not going anywhere.  I hope I can eventually work at Doctors Hospital,” she said.

Conklin said she prepares Thai meals every night for her husband adding that fast food is out of the question.  He enjoys it so much that he has gained a little weight, she chuckled.  Not only has she cared for her father-in-law in her home, but also for her mother-in-law before her death.